Facing the Qiblih

“When ye desire to perform this prayer, turn ye towards the Court of My Most Holy Presence, this Hallowed Spot that God hath made the Centre round which circle the Concourse on High, and which He hath decreed to be the Point of Adoration for the denizens of the Cities of Eternity, and the Source of Command unto all that are in heaven and on earth...”

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 21)

What is the Qiblih? (Qiblih is pronounced 'keb-leh.')
'The "Point of Adoration", that is, the point to which the worshipper should turn when offering obligatory prayer, is called the Qiblih. The concept of Qiblih has existed in previous religions. Jerusalem in the past had been fixed for this purpose. Muhammad changed the Qiblih to Mecca. The Bab's instructions in the Arabic Bayan were:

"The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He shall come to rest."

'This passage is quoted by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Paragraph 137) and confirmed by Him in the above-noted verse. He has also indicated that facing in the direction of the Qiblih is a "fixed requirement for the recitation of obligatory prayer" (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, #14 and #67). However, for other prayers and devotions the individual may face in any direction.

“...and when the Sun of Truth and Utterance shall set, turn your faces towards the Spot that We have ordained for you.”

'Baha'u'llah ordains His resting-place as the Qiblih after His passing. The Most Holy Tomb is at Bahji, Akka. Abdu'l-Baha describes that Spot as the "luminous Shrine", "the place around which circumambulate the Concourse on High".

'In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi uses the analogy of the plant turning in the direction of the sun to explain the spiritual significance of turning towards the Qiblih:

"...just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight – from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Baha'u'llah, when we pray; ... we turn our faces ... to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act."'

(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, pp. 168-69)

"There is no special physical significance in the remains of the Prophets or relics of Their Persons. But there is a profound spiritual significance in the sense that Their dust was the physical mirror of the greatness of God. In other words we know God through His Prophets, Who have bodies; these bodies—Their very dust—are precious through association...

"The Bab has told us to bury the dead in silk (if possible) in coffins of crystal. Why? Because the body, though now dust, was once exalted by the immortal soul of man!...

"The atoms of the Prophets are just atoms, like all others, but the association of this great spiritual power with them leaves in the place they are laid to rest a spiritual atmosphere, if one can use this expression. They are, no doubt, endowed with a tremendous spiritual influence and far-reaching power. But the physical character of their atoms are not different from other people's, any more than their bodies and physical functions are different."

(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 43)

"The reflection of the qualities of holy souls can take place at any time; it is not confined to the period when the Manifestation is on earth."

(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 42)

Once again, the Bab's instructions in the Arabic Bayan were:
“The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He shall come to rest.”

During the lifetime of the Bab, most of the early Babis didn’t yet know the identity of the Promised One. Even after recognizing Baha’u’llah, they were faced with turning toward a moving Target! However, the spiritual adjustment and understanding called for from all believers, now, as then, is an even more thought-provoking prerequisite.
"In this day the faces of the people of insight and understanding are turned in His direction; nay every direction inclineth itself toward Him.”

(Baha'u'llah, Tabernacle of Unity, p. 58)

”When saying the Obligatory Prayer, one must turn towards the Holy Reality of Baha'u'llah, that Reality which encompasseth all things.”

(Abdu'l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XX)

“As to the Obligatory Prayer, it hath a Qiblih that is fixed, specified, holy and blessed.”

(Abdu'l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XXI)

Ali Nakhjavani shared in a recorded talk given at the Baha'i World Centre on May 9, 1987 that, based on a study commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, the Qiblih is: “almost exactly 35 degrees East, Longitude and 33 degrees North, Latitude.

There are Baha'i software applications online for cellphones and tablets that are especially handy for determining which way to face toward the Qiblih from anywhere on earth.

Next: "Short Obligatory Prayer - A Brief Study"

1 comment:

  1. I have read an account of believers who visited Baha'u'llah during one of His visits to Haifa. And I believe it was when He was seated in His tent, that the believers circumambulated Him.